Poet, Agrivida agreement aims to reduce cellulosic ethanol costs

By Holly Jessen | August 21, 2012

Poet LLC and Agrivida Inc., a feedstock and feedstock processing company, announced an agreement Aug. 21, with the goal of significantly reducing the capital and operating costs of commercial cellulosic ethanol production plants.

Agrivida, which has multiple research and development agreements, including with the U.S. DOE and USDA, has signed a four-year technology collaboration joint development agreement with Poet. Agrivida will work to optimize its proprietary corn stover, for which it is developing engineered traits to improve pretreatment for easier cellulose breakdown and reduced enzyme cost. In addition, Poet will evaluate and test Agrivida’s low-severity feedstock processing technology for integration with Poet’s cellulosic ethanol technology.

"Poet is committed to working with new and innovative technologies that will improve the cost and value of cellulosic ethanol production,” said Wade Robey, Poet senior vice president and chief technology officer, in a prepared statement. “If successful, Agrivida’s novel approach to increase the functionality and value delivery of corn stover will work well with other technologies being developed by Poet.”

Poet has been working to develop cellulosic ethanol for more than a decade and its pilot plant has been operating in Scotland, S.D., since November 2008, the company said. Within the last five years Poet has been working with farmers to bale, transport and store corn crop residue. In March Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture with Royal DSM, held a formal groundbreaking ceremony at the site of its 20 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant known as Project Liberty, which is expected to commence operation near the end of 2013.

Agrivida is based in based in Medford, Mass., and has been working to develop protein-engineering expertise to produce high-performance feedstocks for bio-based fuels, chemicals and animal feed during the last nine years. The company is currently developing three crops, corn (for stover,) sorghum and switchgrass. “We are excited to be working with Poet to improve the economics of advanced biofuels production,” said Mark Wong, Agrivida CEO, in a prepared statement. “Poet has one of the most advanced commercial cellulosic programs in the world with strong research, development and commercial deployment capabilities. Poet will be a great partner as Agrivida transitions its technology from research and development to a commercialization phase.”